When James finally woke up, he was well past late. He had been dreaming again. Just as he was about to defeat the dragon and save the damsel in distress, he was stung by the sharp buzzing that emitted from the little block of plastic at his bedside. Even after hitting snooze he lay in bed, trying to see that damsel one more time. She was probably the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, but now she was gone. James, realizing he was late, jolted up and hurried to get dressed. His job at the police station was satisfying, but he dreamed of bigger crimes, more mysteries and less of the ordinary, clean-cut cases he dealt with. He tended to exaggerate his reports, to make them more interesting, much to the behest of his boss.
“RICHARDSON!” screamed commissioner Plotnik.
“YOU’RE LATE! And I want to talk to you about your latest report!”
“OK sir, let me just put my stuff at my desk.”
James knew this was coming, he faced it in varying degrees every morning, but today he probably went too far.
“You insinuated that there was a murder – what evidence do you have, Richardson?”
“Well, none sir, but it makes it so much more interesting, don’t you think?”
“No Richardson…falsifying records makes me look like a buffoon.”
James wanted to tell him that no, in fact, he made himself look like a buffoon, but James was never that brave.
“Well sir, I will try to be more objective in my next report.”
“That would be great, but somehow, I don’t believe it…that’s why I am reassigning you to…”
“Reassigning me? But I am so close to solving this one.”
“Vaughn can handle that one, I can’t have you working on any more of these high profile cases. Your new assignment is this guy – 1421 E. Sycamore…a Mr. Scrushy. I think you could help him out. Carter can brief you on the case.”
James walked out of that office, and half listened as Carter laid out the case. Carter spoke in a whiny, high-pitched voice. It was the last thing James wanted to hear today. As they walked towards his desk, Carter quickly talked about the call they had received from Mr. Scrushy. He was a high-powered bank executive who lived in a nice house with his wife. Scrushy had collected various artifacts from his travels around the world. He claimed that he was being robbed, but only one item at a time. James decided to go down to Sycamore to see what was up.
James arrived at the large house, rang the doorbell and a man in a tuxedo came up to the door. James flashed his badge and asked if he could come in. James guessed he was the butler, but was surprised when the man stretched out an arm to shake his hand.
“I’m William Scrushy. Are you here to…investigate?” Scrushy whispered that last word, playing out some spy fantasy in his mind. James knew that Plotnik was laughing in his cubicle.
“Yeah. Why don’t you tell me the whole story?” Mr. Scrushy invited him in and they walked into a large living room area. As they walked down the hallway, James noticed some photos on the wall, a beautiful woman, who was probably Mr. Scrushy’s wife. He was sort of hoping he’d get to meet her today, but didn’t count on it.
From the living room, Mr. Scrushy opened a large door to a safe that looked more like a bank vault. As James looked around at the remaining artifacts, Mr. Scrushy told James more about the robberies: “I had about 150 artifacts in here, and now I’m down to around 78. I don’t know who could have done this or how, but they keep getting stolen, one per night.”
James was about to ask for descriptions of the stolen items, when he noticed a particular artifact that grabbed his attention. It wasn’t a statue or vase, instead it hung on the wall. It was a black robe with a furry pink hat.
“Wait, what is this?”
“Oh that, well, that is the official regalia of the League of Vivoneely, a secret society. All the men in the group got one. It brings back so many memories; I remember the day I joined. Fredrickson found me and pulled me into this secret room, they seemed to know I would fit in to this group.” He stood up and found a photograph of 7 young men. “These are the Vivs, all my best friends.”
“Do you keep in touch?”
“Yes, well, all but one. Grant was killed a couple of years ago in a car wreck. We all came to the funeral, it was a sad day. We also try to get together every year.”
“You say Grant was killed? Do you mean murdered?”
“No, it was a car wreck, but we all suspected foul play, what with the secrets of the League”
“Well, I can’t tell you, or it wouldn’t be a secret, now would it?”
“I guess not. Well, if Grant was murdered, maybe whoever did it may be after you too. I’d watch my back, Mr. Scrushy.” With no leads here, James went back to the station.